Lightsphere II Settings

May 6, 2005
To get some basic settings for Gary Fong’s Lightsphere II and my SB800, I ran some quick tests. I took shots with the D70 in Program mode (usually resulting in 1/60-f/4 or f/5) with center-weighted metering, ISO at 200 and 400, Low Contrast, Color Mode II RGB, Saturation Normal, and High Sharpening. The SB 800 was set to TTL Mode. The lenses used were an 85mm f/1.4 lens with hood and a 28-70mm 2.8 with hood zoomed to 50mm. I used my daughter’s American Girl Dolls posed on the sofa in my living room. I took test shots with the room lights off (camera Program Mode meter reading of 13 secs., f/1.8 without flash) and the room lights onf (camera Program Mode meter reading of 1.6-2 secs., f/1.4 without flash).

Unfortunately, the SB 800 only allows ev adjustments in .33 amounts. My D70 and D2H allow ev adjustments in .3 and .4 amounts. The ev adjustments I’m suggesting for the 85mm lens are more conservative and are unlikely to cause any blown highlights. Because neither the flash nor camera allow you to dial in exact ev amounts, the ev adjustments for the 50mm lens are less conservative and could cause some blown highlights. To be safe, you could lower the 50mm ev adjustments by .33 and later raise Exp. Comp in Capture’s Advanced Raw. Or, shoot some images with the higher ev adjustments but be sure to examine the histogram to see if it’s pushing past the right side.

Some Basic Settings For Lightsphere II (LSII) and SB 800

LSII with Dome (lid) on and flash pointed straight at subject.

85mm lens: At 6-9 ft. distance from subject, set +.33ev on SB 800.

At 12 ft., set +.66ev.

50mm lens: At 6-9 ft. from subject, set +.66ev on SB 800.
(+.33ev conservatively).

At 12 ft., set +1.0ev. (+.66ev conservatively).

LSII with Dome (lid) either off or on and flash pointed up.

85mm lens: At 6-12 ft., set at +.33ev.

50mm lens: At 6-12 ft., set at +1.0ev. (+.67ev conservatively).

Here are some of the test shots (handheld from 6 feet away with the 85mm) to give you an idea of the different looks from the various flash configurations. No postprocessing was done; the images were resized in Photoshop and converted to sRGB before posting to Smugmug.

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I'm just beginning to play with the Lightsphere II. If anyone has a handle or some ideas on how best to use this contraption, please chime in.



Hi Tosh
Thanks for sharing your test results. At first when I used mine w/ a D2h SB800 combo and it worked fine for me with no comp. One thing I didn't do was use it off to the side which is the way Garry Fong suggested on his site. When I tested it that way I had to add .33 on flash but got better modeling. I haven't experimented any further than that first test but will try and see if I can do some more under different conditions. I have to pull out the doll heads too sometimes. Getting the family to pose is like pulling teeth.
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